If you’re currently suffering from imposter syndrome, you’re not alone. Almost everyone experiences imposter syndrome at some point throughout their career. Yet whilst it’s nice to know you’re not the only one who feels inadequate, it doesn’t minimise the fear or anxiety you experience every time you enter the office. So how do you address these anxieties and regain your confidence? That’s where we come in. We’ve developed 5 actionable steps for overcoming imposter syndrome at work. From shifting your mindset to collecting tangible evidence, these steps will teach you how to reaffirm your worth so you can show up as your best self in (and outside) the office. So, without further ado, let’s explore how to overcome imposter syndrome at work:
Stop comparing yourself to others
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, ‘comparison is the thief of joy,’ – and he wasn’t wrong. In this age of social media, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, actively seeking likes and comments to validate how we live our lives. And the same goes for our careers. The entire narrative surrounding interviews and promotions is steeped in competition and comparison. So how do we stop comparing ourselves to others? The first step is to acknowledge that comparison is a natural cognitive function. Our brains utilise this information to create meaning and gauge how we’re doing. In small doses, this can be motivational, but more often than not, we use comparison to invalidate ourselves and question our worth. So, what’s the solution? Instead of comparing yourself to others, you need to start focusing on yourself. Let me explain. Comparing yourself to others is unhelpful. Often, when we witness people’s successes, we’re only getting a glimpse of the truth. We see the highlights, not the hardships. Instead, it’s far more beneficial to compare yourself to where you were three to six months ago. By comparing your past self to who you are now, you can see what progress you’ve made and how much you’ve grown (whilst also considering your unique personal circumstances). So, if you’re wondering how to overcome imposter syndrome at work, our first suggestion is to stay in your own lane and quit comparing yourself to others! Once you understand that comparison is an inevitable part of your hardwiring, you can stop fighting a losing battle and start channelling that energy into something positive.
Identify your limiting beliefs
What is a limiting belief? A limiting belief is a thought or opinion that restricts your potential. A typical example is ‘I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I’m not qualified.’ The problem with limiting beliefs is they restrict your growth – they are designed to keep you safe (not to help you succeed). When we think back to our days as hunter-gatherers, the unfamiliar was dangerous and potentially life-threatening. So we developed a subconscious belief to keep us safely within our comfort zone. But fast-forward to the present day, and that’s no longer the case. Applying for a promotion or a new job won’t kill you – yet we still feel that innate sense of fight or flight. So, how do we address this? The trick here is to separate fact from fiction. More often than not, you have plenty of evidence to prove you’re worthy of your position (even if the voice in your head is telling you otherwise). Look back at all the experience you’ve accumulated and achievements you’ve attained throughout your career and recognise that your imposter syndrome has no foundation. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t capable! Another great technique for overcoming imposter syndrome at work is journalling. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you will notice patterns and areas of insecurity that can help you identify your limiting beliefs. Once you know where your insecurities lie, you can begin analysing and unpacking them. On closer inspection, you’ll almost always realise there’s no tangible evidence to suggest you aren’t worthy of your career success.
Understand your triggers
If you want to learn how to overcome imposter syndrome at work, you need to understand your triggers. What is causing you anxiety? What fears are preventing your growth? Your triggers may be few and far between, or you may have quite a few – both are perfectly normal. However, the real problem arises when you let your triggers control your actions. For example, if you find starting new things triggering, you may delay or even drop potential projects, ultimately limiting your growth and stinting your success. Although our triggers are often anxiety-inducing, they shouldn’t stop us from moving forward. Fear is a healthy emotion. It doesn’t mean you are underqualified or inexperienced – it simply means you’re nervous, and that’s okay! Fear often indicates when we’re pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones which is essential for success in the long run. So, instead of being led by fear, try to identify your triggers and develop coping mechanisms around them. Once you know how to manage your anxiety, you can make career choices based on your goals and aspirations and not your fears and anxieties.
Prove yourself wrong
Sometimes, the only way to overcome imposter syndrome is to prove yourself wrong. Why? Because you can’t argue with cold, hard evidence. So start collecting positive feedback and keeping a record of your accomplishments thus far. Whether you’ve won awards or gained promotions, these successes all provide tangible evidence that you are capable of your current position. Similarly, good quality feedback goes a long way. Positive testimonials and recommendations are invaluable to employers and prospective clients, whilst constructive criticism can hold the key to unlocking your potential. So, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, and don’t forget to toot your own horn! Listing your many achievements may be the confidence boost you need to catapult your career.
Don’t be scared to fail
Nobody enjoys failing. It often makes us feel flawed, inadequate and, at times, embarrassed. Yet, failure is a part of our everyday lives. So why are we so determined to avoid it? The truth is, failing hurts our ego. It shatters the illusion that we are perfect human beings, incapable of making mistakes (even though we all know this couldn’t be further from the truth). The problem is, this overwhelming fear of failure prevents us from taking risks and trying new things. So whilst it keeps us safe and comfortable, it also deprives us of some of the biggest learning opportunities within our careers. Therefore, if you want to know how to overcome imposter syndrome at work to progress within your career, you have to accept failure as an inevitability. Although it’s scary, failure allows us to see mistakes for what they are – opportunities to grow. Meaning the more comfortable we become with failure, the faster we can learn and the quicker we can progress. So remember, you don’t need to know the answer to every question to be an expert. Failure doesn’t make you any less of an auditor, lawyer, consultant or tax specialist. It just makes you human. a
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity
Although you may feel lucky to be in your current position, you must remember that luck alone cannot account for your entire career. Hard work and determination are the reason you have gotten this far. So, in moments of doubt, remember to stop comparing yourself to others, separate fact from fiction, account for your many achievements and accept failure as an opportunity for growth. Whilst you may not always feel confident, it doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified, so keep challenging your imposter syndrome!
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